Isaiah 14:16 – 15:9

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 18, 1999


Isaiah 13 began a section where Isaiah would be delivering specific prophecies aimed at various nations that have been hostile to Israel, beginning with Babylon.

As we’ve been seeing, these prophecies seem to have several levels of fulfillment. The prophecies against Babylon seem to have been only partially fulfilled when they were conquered by the Medes in 539 BC. The complete fulfillment (as seen in Rev. 17-18) will come when Jesus returns. The prophecy against the "king of Babylon" may have been partially fulfilled with the death of Belshazzar at the fall of Babylon, but as we’ve seen, it also seems to be aimed at Satan, the power behind Babylon, as well as a king of Babylon yet to come.

We ended last week with looking at the section that was aimed at Satan, the real power behind Babylon. The scene is in hell, where all the dead have gathered together to witness the entrance of this king who was so great on earth, but has now been humiliated in death just like they all have been.

We now have switched back to the human in front of the spirit, possibly Belshazzar, maybe even a future king or ruler of a modern Babylon.

:16-23 The king in hell

:16 shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee

narrowly look – to gaze in amazement

consider – to meditate on

All the dead, kind of mockingly, will be amazed that this king of Babylon died just like them.

:17 opened not the house of his prisoners?

(Isa 14:17 NLT) … and had no mercy on his prisoners?'

This king had taken people captive, but never bothered to set them free when their time was up. And as a result, he is being sent to the prison of prisons, hell. I think we can see a lesson here in respect to learning to forgive others, to set them free.


Let the prisoners go.

Luke 6:36-38 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. {37} Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: {38} Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

The idea is that the same standard that you apply to others will be applied to you.

I know that I want God to be abundantly merciful to me, and if I want that standard applied to me, then I better be applying it to others first.

I don’t think this means that we ought to let everybody "off the hook". If you are on jury duty and are faced with deciding the fate of an obviously guilty person, you should act with proper justice.

This is exactly what God does. He is completely just.

But on the other hand, when a person is due for mercy, we ought to be the first to step up and offer it.

Paul, in dealing with the Corinthian church, had to bring discipline upon an individual at one point:

1 Cor 5:1-5 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. {2} And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. {3} For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, {4} In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, {5} To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

We don’t know exactly what Paul meant by delivering the person over to Satan, but if you ask me, it sounds pretty scary.

But the discipline wasn’t forever. When it was clear that the person had repented, truly changed, Paul wrote:

(2 Cor 2:4-8 NLT) How painful it was to write that letter! Heartbroken, I cried over it. I didn't want to hurt you, but I wanted you to know how very much I love you. {5} I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt your entire church more than he hurt me. {6} He was punished enough when most of you were united in your judgment against him. {7} Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won't be able to recover. {8} Now show him that you still love him.

I understand that some of you have been hurt by others. And there is wisdom in learning to step away from certain persons instead of always being hurt by them. But don’t carry the grudge forever. You need to move towards forgiveness. In the end, you are only hurting yourself with your unforgiveness. In a way, just like this king of Babylon, you have ended up in a kind of prison yourself. A prison of anger and bitterness.

It’s time to forgive. It’s time to let it go. It’s time to let the prisoners go free.


Corrie Ten Boom shares this true story in her book, The Hiding Place: It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there -- the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!" His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

:18 the kings of the nations …lie in glory

Most kings get a special burial, complete with big ceremony.

:19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch

abominable branch – a useless "sucker" branch that grows up separately from the root, one that is cut away by a good gardener. This man would be buried in disgust.

:23 the bittern … sweep it with the besom

bittern – porcupine / besom – broom

:24-27 Destruction of Assyria

:25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land

We switch back to Assyria again. As we’ve seen before, Assyria will be defeated in Jerusalem by a single angel. (Is. 37:36)

:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed

There would be no stopping of God’s plans for Assyria. Because God had made the plans, they would come to pass.


God has plans for you.

And because He’s God, you know His plans are perfect for you.

(Eph 2:10 NLT) For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


Gladys Talbot tells the story of three little trees who wanted to be something in life. The first tree wanted to be a pretty cradle when it grew up. One day some people came to the forest and cut the tree down. The tree was hewn into rough pieces and carelessly put together to form a manger in a stable in Bethlehem. The little tree was disappointed because it was shoved into a dark cave with no one to see it but some cattle. One day however, God laid there His own Babe -- the Son of God. the manger quivered with delight. "Oh, this is wonderful! In all my dreams I never thought to hold a Baby like this. This is better than all my planning. Why, I am part of a miracle!"

Years passed by, and men came to the forest to cut down the second tree. This tree aspired to be a great ship when it grew up. But the little tree did not do great things. It was not made into a great vessel, but instead it became a tiny fishing boat, owned by a simple Galilean fisherman named Peter. The little boat was most unhappy. One day it stood by the shores of the Sea of Galilee dejected and disappointed. A crowd had gathered by the shore and because of the multitude, a Man, called Jesus, stepped into the little boat and taught the people from it. "This is wonderful!" it whispered. "In all my dreams and planning I never thought I would be used as part of a miracle."

After some months, men came to the forest to cut down the third tree. This tree just wanted to remain on the hillside and point to God. But men did not leave the little tree alone. They tore away its branches; they cut into its bark, and deeper, into its very heart. They hewed it apart and put it together again, in the form of a crude cross. The little tree quivered through all its being.

"This is terrible!" it whispered. "They are going to hang someone. Oh, I never wanted this to happen to me -- I only wanted to point to God! This is awful!"

One day, outside of Jerusalem, a great crowd gathered. In the midst of the crowd was Jesus and beside Him was the cross. After nailing Him to the cross, the little tree heard words of forgiveness and peace that were offered to the whole world. Then Christ completed His work of redemption and "gave up the ghost."

And the cross began to understand! "This is wonderful!" it whispered. "In all my dreams I never thought to point to God in this way. I am part of a miracle. This is better than all my planning."

-- Talbot, G.M., Stories I Love to Tell, Chicago: Moody Press

How do I plug into God’s plans for me?

Yield to Him.

(Rom 12:1-2 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

When you give yourself to Him as a living sacrifice and allow Him to transform you, you prove to others just how wonderful God’s will is for you.

:28-32 Burden of Philistines

:28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.

Ahaz died in 715 BC.

:29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina,

thou, whole Palestina – all ye of Philistia, the Philistines.

:29 because the rod of him that smote thee is broken

King Uzziah, the grandfather of Ahaz, had done much damage to the Philistines (2Chr. 26:6-7). By the time Ahaz became king, the Philistines had been growing in strength to the point where they had begun to take some of their land back (2Chr. 28:18). But now that even Ahaz was dead, the Philistines might have gotten a little cocky, thinking that now they had absolutely NO problems to worry about.

:29 for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice

You thought Uzziah was bad news, just wait until Ahaz’ son, Hezekiah takes over. He did them great damage (2Ki. 18:8).

:31 for there shall come from the north a smoke

Judah was to the north of the Philistines.

:32 … That the LORD hath founded Zion …

How would Hezekiah answer any messengers who came to find out what was happening in Jerusalem?

He would answer that it was all about God. It wasn’t Hezekiah that made the kingdom great, it was God.


Point to the Lord.

When people come to you, looking for help, be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re the answer to their prayers. Keep pointing them to Jesus. Keep showing them that He is their answer.

Isaiah 15

A new "burden", this time aimed at the Moabites, to the east of Israel.

:1 The burden of Moab.

Moab – descendants of Abraham’s nephew, Lot. When Lot fled from Sodom, he had only his two daughters with him. The girls thought they were the only humans left alive after the destruction of Sodom, so they got their father drunk, and both became pregnant by the father. The Moabites and the Ammonites were the descendants of this incest. They were distantly related to the Israelites, but they were usually at odds with the Israelites. They didn’t worship Yahweh, but instead worshipped an idol named Chemosh. Chemosh was often worshipped by sacrificing children to him.

:1 Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste … Kir …

This is a prophecy about the coming destruction that Moab would be facing.

Ar – literally, "a city". The capital of Moab, a city south of the Arnon River. See map.

Kir – also known as "Kir Hareseth".

When is this fulfilled?

Isaiah says this prophecy will be fulfilled within three years after he gives it (Is. 16:14). It appears to have been fulfilled with the coming Assyrian invasion, probably in the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign, about 711 BC. It appears to describe an invasion coming from the north, with the people of Moab fleeing to the south.

:2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep …

He – Moab / Bajith – better, "house" or "temple".

Nebo – a city at the base of Mount Nebo. The Moabite god, Chemosh, was worshipped on Mount Nebo. See map.

baldness … beard cut off – shaving the head was a sign of great mourning.


False worship won’t help.

They can chant, weep, and sacrifice as much as they want, but Chemosh won’t help them. They’re talking to the wrong "god".

:4 And Heshbon shall cry … shall be heard even unto Jahaz

Heshbon … Jahaz – Jahaz is fifteen miles to the southeast of Heshbon and Elealeh. That’s a pretty loud cry! See map.

:4 therefore the armed soldiers of Moab shall cry out

Even the army will be weeping because they can’t stop the invasion.

:5 his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old …

Zoar – a city at the south end of the Dead Sea. See map. They’ll flee south.

three-year-old heifer – probably better translated as the name of a city, "and Eglath-Shelishiyah", which is also in the southern part of Moab, only four miles to the east of Zoar.

Luhith … Horonaim – also in the same vicinity as Zoar.

The people will be weeping as they go, crying because of the destruction from the invading armies, but there’s more involved as well.

:6 the waters of Nimrim shall be desolate: for the hay is withered

Nimrim – See map.

Not only will Moab have been invaded by an enemy army, but they are in the middle of a drought and famine as well.

:7 the abundance … shall they carry away to the brook …

Because their water sources had dried up, the people would pack up and move to the "Brook of the Willows", or, "the Ravine of the Poplars", or "the brook of Arabim". We’re not sure just where that is.

:8 the howling thereof unto Eglaim … unto Beerelim.

Eglaim … Beer Elim – in central Moab. See map.

:9 the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood …lions upon him

waters … full of blood – red with blood because there will be so many slain.

Dimon – On the river Arnon, the main Moabite river. See map.

lions upon him – if they escape the invading armies, they’ll be killed by lions. There is no escape from the judgment.


Total judgment.

If these people didn’t face an army, they faced famine or lions.

:5 My heart shall cry out for Moab;

(Isa 15:5 NLT) My heart weeps for Moab.

This is the prophet Isaiah speaking.

JFB: "Ministers, in denouncing the wrath of God against sinners, should do it with tender sorrow, not with exultation."


A heart for the lost.

There are some folks who like to talk and preach about God’s judgment. And the problem isn’t that they’re talking about judgment. We ALL need to be reminding people that God’s judgment is real and is coming. That’s what Isaiah is doing.

But some people seem to get a kind of perverse pleasure in yelling at sinners and telling them they’re going to hell. I think we’ve all been exposed to preachers like this. But there’s another way to do it.


President Woodrow Wilson told this story. He said: "I was in a very common place, I was sitting in a barber chair, when I became aware that a personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself -- to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through with what was being done for me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service. Because Mr. D.L. Moody was in that chair.

I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barbershop. They didn't know his name but they knew that something had elevated their thoughts and I felt that I left that place as I should have left the place of worship.

My admiration and esteem for Mr. Moody became very deep indeed."

Don’t forget that Jesus was known as the "friend of sinners". Do you have compassion on those who need to know Jesus? Can they tell you care?